I have worked with very few teachers that get excited about professional development. Whenever PD is mentioned most teachers cringe and get a negative idea in their head of sitting in a cafeteria or auditorium listening to someone ramble on about how we should be teaching. Most think PD adds more work to their already full load. The people that lecture to us have usually never taught. If they did teach at some point in their career they can only relate to a small percentage of the people in the room because we are so diverse. There are a few key principles that Gulamhussein (2013) pointed out in his report that every teacher knows. These principles focus on the fact that the best teaching practices are lessons that target specific goals, are relevant to the learner, and have multiple supported, active learning opportunities to practice new skills. Why don’t we do staff development that way? Having an entire school of teachers sit in front of someone giving a lecture is never going to be beneficial to everyone. But there is a better way.
Tony Bates’ Constructivism theory of learning claims that learners “consciously strive for meaning to make sense of their environment in terms of past experience and their present state.” They see learning “as essentially a social process, requiring communication between learner, teacher and others” (Bates, 2014). This idea needs to be taken into consideration when creating professional development courses. Incorporate what the teachers are familiar with to teach them new ideas, techniques, styles, etc… In most cases we do not have to reinvent the wheel, simply improve upon what we already have. Incorporate teacher input into PD classes, gear them toward individualizes learning, utilize smaller learning groups, and put more responsibility on the learner.
I created the video above to pitch the idea of a new professional development plan to my administration. My personal images were used, some from my co-workers, and I used some royalty free images from pixabay.com and graphicstock.com. Microsoft Publisher was used to edit photos and add text. The video was created in Microsoft MovieMaker. I tried to create a smooth coherent video that could easily be followed to see why a change in PD is important and suggest a few ideas.
There will be roadblocks when trying to make changes to anything that teachers are accustomed to using, this is no different for the current professional development design. One of the biggest problems with changing PD is that there will be opposition to change just because it is different, not because it is good or bad. Unfortunately that is the way a lot of teachers are. We do things the way we do them because we always have. This is the attitude that we need to change. We will never know if a new system will work if we are closed minded to everything.
In order for PD to really be beneficial teacher input is going to have to be acknowledged. The teachers need to be collaborating with the Continuing Education Department and letting them know what areas we need more information in. I want to see a reform in the way professional development is administered. It is time to make a change and start using 21st century teaching styles to educate our teachers just like we do our students. It is not feasible to think that getting an entire group of educators that teach all different subject areas in the same room and lecturing to them will benefit them. It is time that we start educating our teachers the same way we want our students educated. Teachers deserve an opportunity to have PD that is dedicated to their field of study, not just a generalized class that is made for all subjects.
Bates, T. (2014, July 29). Learning theories and online learning. Online Learning and Distance Education Resources. Retrieved from http://www.tonybates.ca/2014/07/29/learning-theories-and-online-learning/
Gulamhussein, A. (2013). Teaching the Teachers Effective Professional Development in an Era of High Stakes Accountability. Center for Public Education. Retrieved from http://www.centerforpubliceducation.org/Main-Menu/Staffingstudents/Teaching-the-Teachers-Effective-Professional-Development-in-an-Era-of-High-Stakes-Accountability/Teaching-the-Teachers-Full-Report.pdf
Images from Pixabay.com